Population Pluralism and Natural Selection

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-29 (2016)
  Copy   BIBTEX

Abstract

I defend a radical interpretation of biological populations—what I call population pluralism—which holds that there are many ways that a particular grouping of individuals can be related such that the grouping satisfies the conditions necessary for those individuals to evolve together. More constraining accounts of biological populations face empirical counter-examples and conceptual difficulties. One of the most intuitive and frequently employed conditions, causal connectivity—itself beset with numerous difficulties—is best construed by considering the relevant causal relations as ‘thick’ causal concepts. I argue that the fine-grained causal relations that could constitute membership in a biological population are huge in number and many are manifested by degree, and thus we can construe population membership as being defined by massively multidimensional constructs, the differences between which are largely arbitrary. I end by showing that positions in two recent debates in theoretical biology depend on a view of biological populations at odds with the pluralism defended here.

Similar books and articles

Population Pluralism and Natural Selection.Jacob Stegenga - 2014 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science (1):axu003.
“Population” Is Not a Natural Kind of Kinds.Jacob Stegenga - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (2):154–160.
“Population” Is Not a Natural Kind of Kinds.Jacob Stegenga - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (2):154-160.
Natural Selection and Causal Productivity.Roberta L. Millstein - 2013 - In Hsiang-Ke Chao, Szu-Ting Chen & Roberta L. Millstein (eds.), Mechanism and Causality in Biology and Economics,. Springer.
“Population” Is Not a Natural Kind of Kinds.Jacob Stegenga - 2010 - Biological Theory 5 (2):154-160.
Productivity, Relevance and Natural Selection.Stuart Glennan - 2009 - Biology and Philosophy 24 (3):325-339.
Populations and Pigeons: Prosaic Pluralism About Evolutionary Causes.Marshall Abrams - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (3):294-301.
Natural Selection as a Population-Level Causal Process.Roberta L. Millstein - 2006 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 57 (4):627-653.
Population Thinking as Trope Nominalism.Bence Nanay - 2010 - Synthese 177 (1):91 - 109.
An Explication of the Causal Dimension of Drift.Peter Gildenhuys - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (3):521-555.
How Do Natural Selection and Random Drift Interact?Marshall Abrams - 2007 - Philosophy of Science 74 (5):666-679.
Thinking About Populations and Races in Time.Roberta L. Millstein - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:5-11.

Analytics

Added to PP
2016-04-13

Downloads
369 (#29,935)

6 months
39 (#27,439)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jacob Stegenga
Cambridge University

Citations of this work

Facts, Conventions, and the Levels of Selection.Pierrick Bourrat - 2021 - Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Four Pillars of Statisticalism.Denis M. Walsh, André Ariew & Mohan Matthen - 2017 - Philosophy, Theory, and Practice in Biology 9 (1):1-18.
Thinking About Populations and Races in Time.Roberta L. Millstein - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 52:5-11.
Environment as Abstraction.Denis Walsh - 2022 - Biological Theory 17 (1):68-79.

View all 16 citations / Add more citations